4 Jul 2021

Covid-19: More than half of sick people not getting tested - survey

8:13 am on 4 July 2021

Nearly two-thirds of surveyed New Zealanders chose not to be tested for Covid-19 even when sick, new research shows.

Covid-19 testing centre at Taranaki Street, Wellington

Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Commissioned by the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia, the research surveyed about 1000 people in New Zealand last month.

It showed 64 percent of people chose not to get tested despite experiencing cold and flu-like symptoms in the past six months. Despite this, 87 percent said they were proud of the country's high levels of testing.

Covid-19 symptoms are similar to the flu and can include a new or worsening cough, fever (at least 38˚C), shortness of breath, a sore throat, sneezing and runny nose, temporary loss of smell.

Some people may present with less typical symptoms such as only: fever, diarrhoea, headache, myalgia (muscle pain), nausea/vomiting, or confusion/irritability.

RCPA president Michael Dray said the statistics were "concerning" considering the highly contagious Delta variant was circulating in communities around the world.

"In order to continue managing this pandemic successfully in New Zealand and enjoying the travel bubble we have with Australia, we strongly advise anyone to be tested if they have cold and flu like symptoms."

Dr Dray said until people were fully vaccinated, having more people get tested was the best way to ensure the virus was not in the community.

"While testing levels in New Zealand increase at times of outbreaks, it is essential that the community always remains vigilant and continues to follow the public health advice.

"We are now at a pivotal point in this pandemic and it is important we aim to reach a minimum number of Covid-19 tests each day so we can be confident the virus is not circulating in the community."

More than 80 percent also acknowledged the role of pathology in managing the pandemic.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

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